Friday, October 14, 2016

PTSD and Narcissists

This summer, I had a class where we learned an interesting take on MacBeth. The producer of last year's movie version of MacBeth approached the character of MacBeth as one who had PTSD. MacBeth had served in wars, and his seemingly murderous character, who develops a lack of remorse for his deeds and keeps repeating them, could have been merely following his training as a soldier.
Soldiers who come back from war and struggle with PTSD also struggle with the fact that when they were in the military, they had a constant brotherhood that worked together against an enemy. They had the thrill of the fight and miss that feeling. Some have categorized that feeling as addictive. The strength of camaraderie and fighting together against an enemy will even cause soldiers to say, "that is the time in my life I felt most alive."
They sacrifice their natural human social structure to join a warrior's social structure. Coming back to "civilian" society is and can be very difficult, especially with all the complexities of PTSD.
In a recent article I read about a narcissist during divorce, his ex-wife asked him to just stop: the lies, the abuses, the attacks in court.
The narcissist said, "I can't stop."
The narcissist has found a way to wage emotional, financial, and intellectual war. Narcissists often have a "brotherhood", whether in friends, family, or work. They convince their "brotherhood" of an enemy, one they've created out of a need to fight. They use their black-and-white thinking to make that enemy all bad, while they are all good. They then use this information to justify their bad behavior towards someone who was never really an enemy.
When violence does not result in murder, it is still violence. Any time another's choice is taken away, any time their humanity is denied, any time a dominance structure of oppression is set up and  in it, the creation of inequality, there is violence. Violence can be an exploitation of someone, especially someone of lesser means. Violence can be adapted to this culture, especially in the black-and-white milieu of court. Look how our "justice" system has been used to enact blatant racism. The violence is not straightforward, but manipulative and underhanded and somehow socially acceptable.
Abuse of any kind is NOT acceptable. We don't always understand this kind of violence. We don't see that using weapons of entitlement, ALL the weapons of entitlement,  is hurtful too. We do not readily accept stories of people who abuse covertly.
Yet it is there. And no matter how many times a sufferer cries out, it falls on deaf ears. To a warrior, the sounds of crying and pain coming from someone deemed an enemy is SWEET. It is SATISFYING to see the contrived enemy suffer. It means he is a good warrior.
It doesn't matter that his war is a lie, or that he is hurting innocent people. He doesn't care how his battles affect women and children. Those women could be his mother and sister, those children his, but the war is larger than he is, the battlefield one of skewed logic and imagined threats. He lives in a fearful place, since he cannot overcome his inner environment through culture or vocation, he must do it through contrivances of war.
He cannot overcome his impulses, training, or his limbic drives, and this automatically makes him abusive.
Like soldiers with PTSD, the narcissist only feels alive when in this war.
And those he targets? Somehow their own limbic drives led them there....and this is for another post.

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